Fright Manor: A Frightening Past

Fright Manor Haunted House-“A Frightening Past”

Fright Manor Haunted House, at 2909 S. Meridian Street Indianapolis, Indiana  began as the Haunted Gym in 1982.  Tom Angrick and Matt Barrick started this haunted house at the Lutheran High School at 4100 S. Post Road in Wanamaker, Indiana.  It ran from 1982 through 1984.  We did not have many props, but it was an old school with a creepy basement.  And, we were very good at jumping out in the dark and scaring our customers.

Several of our weird highlights were this. We had Dracula swinging from the rope in the gym and actually flying thorugh the air. It was real cool, until the rope came back and hit a kid in the nose and made it bleed. Another young kid about 8 years old was going through with his grandmother. He was so scared, that he fell down the stairs to the basement. We thought he would have really been hurt, but he was having so much fun that he just kept going.

Our final weird happening was when a very popular radio disc jockey came through.  He had been going to all of the haunted houses in Indianapolis.  He went on the radio the next week and said our house was the best in the city. He said the last room that we had, was the scariest room in the city. That room was our swamp room loaded with fog.  All we had in there was some black plastic, tree limbs and bushes and our scary monster that jumped out. I guess we have all come a long way since then. We had to move in 1985 because one lone Lutheran mother complained saying we were devil worshipers, which we are not.

So, in 1985, Matt and I went before the Southport Town Council.  They agreed to let us move in there and we renamed our house, Fright Manor Haunted House.  We had a great deal of success there as we stayed thru 2004.  We were able to raise over $300,000 for the Children’s Playground Fund of Southport.  In 1996, Kevin (Wolfie) Bailer and his wife Donna (Crazy Lady), and I went to Transworld in Chicago.  We started by getting animatronics and professional props and this really made our haunt grow.  We were usually named one of the best haunts in Indy.  In 1998, the Sci Fi Channel named us the best-haunted house in Indiana.  We grew until we had two haunts at the park.  Fright Manor was the haunted house and Psychomanthium was where we conjured the dead in the graveyard.

In 2004, we took over the Southport Little League Haunted House and named it Fear the Dark.  So, we had two separate places where we were haunting.  The sad news in November 2004, that after 20 Halloweens, the city of Southport would not give us a contract that we could live with.  We had two old neighbor ladies that had been complaining about us for several years.  They just did not like having fun.  So, the new contract would have been, that we would have had to stop the show at 11 pm on the weekends.  And, everyone knows, that is not possible.  So, in fact, the city closed us down.  Many Southport neighbors were very upset with the town council on this.

The next election will probably remove many of them so, in 2005, we moved Fright Manor, Psychomanthium and Fear the Dark to its present location at the Southport Little League.  One of the best-haunted house builders around is Rob Better (Zombie Rob).  When his mind is on scaring, it’s wild and one of the best around.  Others that help out in our show are Steve Grimes, Nancy Akins, Whit Miller, Matt Orcutt, Tim Cecil, Vicki Grimes, John O’Haver, Gary Slinger, Brian Fowler, Kyle McClintoch and Cindy Angrick (the real boss).

One of the things that have made us successful in the haunted house is that we follow the basic rules of scaring.  We try and have some great scary scenes.  We have dark places where the unknown rules.  We have our monsters jump out from the least expected places.  We have monsters that act the part.  We have loud scares either by saws or screaming or making loud booms on barrels. The best part at the end is the traditional chase by the crazy chainsaw guys.  We have lots of fun doing this.   This event is lots of work, but it is a lot of fun for all of us.

Over the years Fright Manor would add new haunts and change things up, but its biggest change was moving its location in 2009. Now all the haunts at this Indianapolis classic are part of one big event at 2909 S. Meridian Street. The future is bright for Fright Manor and may the Halloween spirit live on at this Indianapolis favorite.

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